The third time was anything but the charm for the men's water polo team (18-11), which dropped its third game this season against No. 14 St. Francis College (21-3), 14-7, on Sunday in the Collegiate Water Polo Association Northern Division Championship. The loss followed a 12-6 win over Iona College (6-19) and a 9-6 victory over the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (12-10), who hosted the tournament.
Head Coach Felix Mercado was pleased with the first two games of the tournament, and the fact that his squad has now qualified for the CWPA Eastern Division Championships, held at Bucknell University from Nov. 18-21.
"I was happy on Saturday," Mercado said. "But it's almost like the wheels fell off against St. Francis."
Brown is far from the only team to be derailed by the Terriers. They have been steadily climbing in national rankings with nine consecutive wins and are favored to win the Eastern Championships.
The Bears would like nothing more than to stun St. Francis with an upset, but in order to even have a shot at taking down the East Coast powerhouse, Bruno will have to get past No. 15 Navy (22-6). The winner of that game will face either MIT or No. 17 Princeton (18-8) for a spot in the finals.
These upcoming foes are familiar to Bruno, who have won three games against MIT this season and lost one to both Navy and Princeton.
"The gauntlet starts with Navy," Mercado said. "If we happen to pull two great games together, I'm hoping we're looking at St. Francis."
Walker Shockley '14 will likely be a major factor in Brown's success or failure in the upcoming tournaments. The rookie goalkeeper has been seeing the bulk of the playing time in the net lately, including the games against Iona, MIT and St. Francis last weekend. Shockley made a total of 32 saves in the tournament.
"When you have a hot goalie, you've got to ride with him," Mercado said. "He came off of a good showing in California, and has picked up momentum ever since." Shockley, who last week was named CWPA Rookie of the Week and CWPA Defensive Player of the Week, cited his eight years of water polo "at a very competitive level" as one factor in his performance of late.
"I'm just working hard, doing my thing ," Shockley said. "And it's paying off."
Shockley normally splits time with Max Lubin '12. Mercado was quick to point out that Lubin would "be a starter on almost every other team on the East Coast." But the coach also said the coaching staff won't hesitate to put Lubin back in net if Shockley's performance wavers.
The Bears will have a full two weeks of practice before heading to Bucknell on Nov. 18, where they hope to claim the Eastern Division title.